Star Rating System In Store For Motorcycle Gear
A five-star rating system that will independently measure and label the protective and comfort qualities of motorcycle clothing will be launched in Australia within two years to help consumers make better choices and encourage manufacturers to improve their standards.
Led by the Transport for NSW Centre of Road Safety, the rating system will be similar to that already found on whitegoods and the ANCAP crash-protection rating for vehicles.
European markets already have a similar star-rating system on motorcycle clothing, but the Australian system will also take into account local climate, terrain and road conditions. The national project is part funded by the Transport Accident Commission and the Motor Accidents Authority of NSW, and will not be mandated.
The tests are conducted on a range of conventional motorcycle equipment and clothing and will take into consideration a variety of factors including impact and abrasion resistance and comfort through temperature regulation.
“There isn’t much transparency about the quality of a garment,” Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon says.
“Testing has clearly shown that some garments perform much better than others. The garment may look like it’s going to provide protection but, when you put it under the close scrutiny of impact or abrasion tests, they don’t stand up whereas others are providing significant protection.”
Australian motorcycle clothing manufacturer Draggin Jeans welcomes the star-rating system as a means to create an even playing field within the Australian market.
“As is happened in Europe, many manufacturers don’t want the standard because most of their products don’t reach any standards,” Draggin Jeans sales manager Will Cope says.
“In safety terms, the perception of riding jeans is [that] leather is at the top, textiles in the middle and riding jeans are at the bottom. But our testing, conducted by Dr Chris Hurren of Deakin University, shows that that’s not true.
“Once the testing is applied to it, we learn that everything – even leather – is variable. Not all leathers perform the same way, not all jeans perform the same way. Same with textiles and helmets. Everything has to reach a base standard, but it doesn’t mean that some don’t perform better than others beyond that base standard.”
The Centre of Road Safety has been gathering evidence over the past three years, following discussions between government and motorcycling organisations. “We’re now in a position to bring this forward in the marketplace as a defined project, nationally,” Carlon says.
Several studies, including analysing 102 actual crashes, presented significant evidence about the sorts of injuries motorcyclists are subjected to. The effectiveness of protective clothing and the outcome of their injuries was also considered.
“Within 12-18 months we’ll have a strong set of information available that we’ll be able to share with motorcyclists and manufacturers. [This will allow us] to build a body of evidence around what sort of clothing is actually going to provide benefits and how we would categorise that clothing in order for there to be some objective star rating of the qualities of that clothing, be it gloves, pants or jackets,” Carlon says.
“Since 2005 we’ve seen a significant increase in injuries [which] led to motorcyclists being admitted to hospital. New South Wales has gone from over 1800 admissions a year from motorcycle crashes to more than 2500.”
Part of the push is to encourage motorcyclists to think about the quality of clothing they should be wearing while riding. “There’s a significant number of people who aren’t wearing gear that would protect them in a crash,” Carlon says.
“It’s about providing more information and encouraging more motorcyclists to use more protective equipment and clothing. It’s an essential part of what we need to do to reduce trauma.”
This article appears in Motorcycle Trader issue 307